SpiceWorld 2020 is a wrap, and I must say that I am very impressed with how well the conference was presented. The SpiceWorks event staff and the Spice Buddies really went all out to make this virtual conference feel as much like the in-person SpiceWorld event as possible. One of the things that makes SpiceWorld unique is the emphasis on community and having fun while learning new things.
Compared to other conferences I have attended, the people at SpiceWorld (called Spiceheads in the forums) are much more sociable and eager to discuss IT and share solutions to problems they've encountered in their day-to-day activities. While the in-person interaction was not possible this year, the SpiceBuddies Discord server provided a great way for attendees to chat in real time while viewing the different sessions. It was a lot of fun to reconnect with SpiceWorld friends and meet new ones via the Discord channels.
The other thing that makes SpiceWorld different is the entertainment value. The event normally allows attendees to experience a taste of Austin via breakfast tacos for breakfasts in the Expo Hall, vendor events including dinner at Stubb's BBQ or a river cruise to see the bats fly out from under Congress Bridge, and of course, the SpiceWorld Party at ACL Moody Theater which features great food and a live local band. Although the party couldn't happen this year, the conference did feature short performances from three local musicians Ben Cina, Michael Cross, and Drew Davis. They were really good, and it was a nice way to take short break from the sessions and experience some music from the Live Music Capital of the World. This was definitely a nice touch to the conference.
I was also very impressed with the content of the sessions this year. This might be the most informative and high-level SpiceWorld that I have attended so far. Some of my favorite highlights were Jeff Hicks' sessions on PowerShell AD commands and Visual Studio Code, a hacking demo by Gary Lobermier, and the keynote given by SpiceWorld regular Jeffrey Snover, Microsoft Technical Fellow and CTO of Modern Workplace Transformation. I also presented my session this morning about best practices for nonprofit and SMB IT environments. It was quite a neat experience to present in a virtual setting to the 518 attendees who viewed my session. Here's a screenshot of the Q&A (the Zoom background is a photo of the SpiceWorld 2019 Expo Hall which I snapped from the top of the Dell Technologies Tour truck).
Overall, I really enjoyed SpiceWorld 2020 and, as always, came away with practical knowledge that I can't wait to apply in my work environment. I look forward to SpiceWorld 2021 and hopefully attending in person next year!
Stay tuned for an article I'll be posting soon about how to get the most out of a virtual conference.